Life Of A First-Year Teacher

Jeffrey Otterbein

French teacher Sophia Lataille is not only new to Xavier but to the classroom. This is her first year as a teacher, so every step of the way is a first step. She will be learning just as her students are learning. We will follow her at various times throughout the year, giving readers a glimpse into the life of a first-year teacher.


Lataille, 25, might be new to teaching but not to the language. Xavier is fortunate to have her as a French teacher as she comes in with a deep background.

She grew up in Hampden, Maine, and went to the public high school there, Hampden Academy.

Lataille took French in middle school and high school, and was inspired to stick with it because of her French heritage.

“Both sides of my family come from Québec and I grew up hearing my grandparents speaking French,” Lataille  said.   “I was always inspired by people who could speak multiple languages so I decided I wanted to learn.”

She takes the charge seriously.

“I made the decision to become an Au Pair in Paris after high school in order to improve my French fluency,” Lataille  said. “It was an incredible experiencing working in Paris, but definitely a challenge moving straight out of my parents’ house into a foreign country.”

After living in Paris, she went to the University of Maine, graduating from the Honors college with majors in French and Secondary Education. She wrote an undergraduate thesis about English Language Learners, which ties in with her certification to teach ESL (English as a Second Language).

Lataille  worked through college and was an RA (resident adviser).

She always wanted to be a teacher. “I am passionate about learning and want to instill that passion in my students,” Lataille  said.

 

THE LEARNING CURVE

Everything is new. What’s the best route to avoid traffic on the way in from West Hartford … what time is best to get here so she’s ready when the kids arrive and that 8:15 bell sounds … how to stay ahead on lesson plans … getting to know the names of the faculty and staff … learning what works best in the classroom.

Oh, and even where to park when she proctored the freshmen dance. Lataille parked in the front; she should have parked in the back.

She tries to get here around 7 a.m., which gives her time before the students are in the building. She leaves between 4 and 5 p.m. On Sundays she has been spending a lot of time on the following week’s lesson plan, which reduces weekend relaxation. So she’s trying to more lesson planning during the week.

“I’m slowly working on this,” Lataille said. “I hope it improves once I get a system down.”

Already she is feeling more comfortable.

When she walked into the building on the first day of school there were a few emotions.

Nervous and excited were two, she said. “A mixture of both but mostly excited about starting my teaching career. I knew the first year would be a challenge.”

When not on the job, she likes to read, hike, snowboard and do art. She took a pottery class before school began. Right now there is not much time for any of that. But that will change down the road. Maybe when winter comes, she'll find time on the weekend to hit the slopes.

For now , "il n y a pas passez de temps dans une journée."  Not enough time in a day.